Style and Language - My Place - Sally Morgan #
My Place uses a Craft of Writing by ordinary people for ordinary people.
The style appeals to non-literary readers. It is non-fiction yet it uses many of the conventions and processes of literature.
It is characterised by anti-intellectual and non-academic research and writing. It is an oral story of personal triumph against whiteman’s way and all odds.
Though Sally uses Battye Library to start, the real sources are the life stories of her people.
Using a flat, matter of fact style of writing with attention to the mundane, the ordinary everyday details of life illustrates that indigenous people are no different from everybody else.
The characters are allowed to speak for themselves in their own idioms.
The irony exists in that we can see through many of Sally’s early misconceptions and misunderstandings. The tonal irony of dispassionate revelations of Nan’s “unspeakable” trauma gives her a dignity that cannot be denied.
The simplicity of the title belies the complexity of the concept of “place”, which is not only physical or geographic, but also personal and spiritual. The identity, while personal, is more collective than individual, an emotional, cultural belonging and security
STRUCTURE - Narrative order and technique.
Order of events Sally begins with herself as a child chronologically we become aware of the emerging consciousness of her world and we are gradually drawn closer to her and her family and then participate and empathise in the search for her identity. It is not highly organised or structured; rather it rambles or meanders randomly through the airwaves of her memory. It is four stories, each in their own voice that peels back the layers of their identity; Sally’s, Arthur’s, Gladys’ and finally part of Nan’s which is eventually filled in by the memories of Alice Drake-Brockman. In many ways it is similar to her painting; vibrant, dynamic, vital, patterned, dotted - yet unified and full of high purpose.
We meet Nan as part of the family and her endearing love, humour, eccentricities and devotion grows on us gradually until we identify and sympathise with her as a person and fellow human being rather than a sub—human species or an animal. It is this technique which helps us to reject whiteman’s cruelty to her; only fully revealed at the end.
Many incidents are foreshadowed or partially disclosed by other people in the first part of the book and then fully developed later in the stories told by the first person participants; Nan giving birth to Gladys and her separation from Nan into an orphanage. The suspense is created by these partial disclosures of Nan’s “unspeakable” treatment.
Rather than a search for independence, it is a search for reunion with family and her people (ancestors).
Much of her past is secret because of shame; the whites haven’t recorded it and the indigenous people don’t want to talk about it. Sally, like a good detective must sleuth the information from different sources.
The silence is broken by confession; to right former wrongs and for personal reconciliation and self-worth as Sally finds her voice and projects it for those who wish to listen and hear.